Frequently Asked Questions

Eligibility criteria and application procedures for the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Health & Society Scholars program can be found on the Health & Society Scholars program national website. The national site also includes a Frequently Asked Questions page, providing information relevant to all six sites of the Health & Society Scholars program.

To learn about the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Health & Society Scholars program at Wisconsin, please see below:

How does the Health & Society Scholars program at Wisconsin select mentors for the Scholars?

While we believe strongly in an active mentoring program, we administer it with flexibility. Some mentoring relationships begin during the interview process, where potential scholars are introduced to faculty who have interests similar to their own. When first arriving on campus, each Scholar will be assigned one of the co-directors as a temporary advisor with primary responsibility for helping the Scholar get acclimated to the program and to options on campus. During the first semester, we expect that the identification of one or more academic and or practice mentors will take place.

The major responsibility of the academic mentors will be to advise and assist with the formulation of research projects, and to link the Scholar to the extensive resources of the UW Campus. Based on the needs of the Scholar, the functions of the academic mentoring relationship may range from a primarily advisory role on research and professional issues, to one in which the mentor and Scholar work together on a research project.

For some scholars interested in translation of research to policy, one or more practice mentors will share knowledge about his/her particular practice/policy setting to help the Scholar understand how research gets used in applied settings, and will provide feedback on the Scholar's research. In some circumstances, the practice mentor will serve a more intense function, such as by working with the Scholar on a research project based in the practice/policy setting or a research project using data from that setting.

How much of Scholars' time is spent in seminars, and how much in research?

Most of the Scholars' time will be spent in independent or collaborative research of the Scholars' choice.

Scholars will participate in weekly seminars (2 hours per week), and in Professional Development seminars, workshops, and off-campus visits in the areas of practice and policy, knowledge-transfer, and leadership skills. Scholars also will be encouraged to participate in other research seminars on campus that match their own academic and networking needs.

In addition, some Scholars may wish to further enhance their methodological and statistical skills. Although we will not encourage scholars to take on much formal course work, we will provide many options for Scholars to help meet their individualized professional goals.

Regarding the Health & Society Scholars program research experience, we recognize as a practical matter that Scholars must strike a balance between publishing work relating to their dissertations (at least for Scholars of recent doctoral vintage), becoming involved in ongoing research projects, and initiating independent scholarly inquiries of their own. The program directors and the academic mentors will be responsible for facilitating this balancing.

How much contact do you have with the other Scholars, program directors, faculty in Dept. of Population Health Sciences, and faculty elsewhere in the University?

Scholars at Wisconsin have frequent contact with, and easy access to, fellow academics on campus.

Our program structure and space are both designed to encourage interaction among members of the Health & Society Scholars program at Wisconsin. Scholars and program Co-Directors meet at least once a week for our seminars and events, and informal meetings occur frequently because the Scholars' individual offices are located in the same suite, a few floors above John Mullahy's and David Kindig's home offices, and Stephanie Robert’s part-time office.

Several of the Population Health faculty are involved in our program as seminar speakers and mentors. As our Health & Society Scholars program at Wisconsin is housed in the Department of Population Health Sciences, Scholars also see Population Health faculty at formal seminars and at the Department's frequent social events, such as the weekly teas.

Scholars have various channels of access to faculty from across the University, as we bring in faculty as mentors, seminar leaders, department seminar speakers, and Professional Development guests. The Co-Directors and Mentors facilitate meetings between Scholars and key faculty throughout the University, and introduce Scholars to campus leaders including heads of centers, institutes, and departments, and deans of UW schools and colleges.

How does the Health & Society Scholars program at Wisconsin promote Knowledge Transfer?

Our Scholars frequently interact with leaders and path-breakers in the field of Knowledge Transfer. Special features of the Health & Society Scholars program at Wisconsin are our location in the State's Capital and our connection with the University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute, both of which provide scholars with many opportunities to base a research project in a practice/policy setting.

What is the office space like for Scholars?

Scholars are housed in a suite on the 10th floor WARF Building. Each Scholar has an individual office with a door (no cubicles) and a window. The office of the program coordinator, Jane Lambert, is next to the suite, allowing scholars easy access if they have administrative questions. Stephanie Robert's part-time office, and the home offices of John Mullahy and David Kindig, are in the same building, just a few floors down.

What faculty and departments are involved with the Health & Society Scholars program at Wisconsin?

Any faculty member at the University may be involved in the Health & Society Scholars program at Wisconsin, depending on the needs of the scholars. As you'll see on our "Faculty and Staff" page, our faculty participants come from many departments, centers, institutes, schools, and colleges, such as Population Health Sciences, Social Work, Medicine, Family Medicine, Sociology, Psychology, Economics, Pharmacy, Ophthalmology, Biostatistics, Industrial Engineering, Psychiatry, Nursing, Institute on Aging, Center for Demography and Ecology, Center for Demography of Health and Aging, and Institute for Environmental Studies. Examples of off-campus organizations that participate are The Alliance (an employer health-care cooperative), the Wisconsin Center for Health Equity,and the Rural Wisconsin Health Cooperative. For names of other UW schools, departments, institutes, and centers whose faculty are available to scholars, please go to our About UW-Madison page.

What advantages does the program draw from being located in the state capital?

Our site's location in Wisconsin's capital city, Madison, provides Scholars with a unique opportunity to meet health policy professionals in state government as well as leaders of the state's private nonprofit and for-profit health organizations. Scholars have the opportunity to choose a mentor who shows how research is used in policy-making or applied settings, and who provides feedback on the Scholar's research.

Another location-related perk for our Scholars is the Evidence-Based Health Policy Project, which consists of a network of nonprofit, health policy organizations that provide timely, nonpartisan analysis to policymakers. Scholars will have the opportunity to join Wisconsin state policymakers and other stakeholders as they meet in our capital city for off-the-record dialogue. This project began in 2002 as “Wisconsin Health Policy Forums” with funding from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation State Health Policy Forums initiative, and grew into the current multi-dimensional Evidence-Based Health Policy Project. Today, this unique collaboration is made possible through grants from the Wisconsin Partnership Program, University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health, the UW-Madison Chancellor's Office, and in-kind contributions from project partners.

What University resources--academic and research--oriented are available to Scholars?

Scholars have access to departments in any of the University of Wisconsin's prestigious schools and colleges as well as to Wisconsin's research centers, institutes, labs, and programs.

What benefits do Scholars receive at the Health & Society Scholars program at Wisconsin?

Each Scholar is provided a research fund to use at his/her discretion for research-related items such as: a student research assistant, purchase of data, and purchase of books. Also, the Health & Society Scholars program at Wisconsin funds professional meetings for each Scholar.

Scholars at Wisconsin receive UW-Madison Postdoctoral Trainee benefits and are eligible for health and life insurance. Please note two important differences between the benefits for Health & Society Scholars and for other UW - Madison postdocs. First, Scholars receive a stipend that is set by the Health & Society Scholars program, and is considerably higher than the postdoc stipends you'll find on the UW benefits website. Second, relocation costs for Scholars are partially reimbursed, whereas most UW postdocs do not receive relocation reimbursement.

How cold does it really get in Madison?

According to, there is only one month in the year (January) when the average high temperature is below freezing. During our snowy season, Wisconsin offers a variety of winter sports and activities – and keep in mind that snow has other uses too!